The identity of the first astronaut to board the Artemis I mission to the moon has been revealed, and it is none other than Shaun the Sheep.
The mission, which will include the European Space Agency (ESA) European Service Module for the first time, is to fly around the Moon before returning to Earth.
The spacecraft will be operated by ground operatives, with Sean keeping everything in “sheep form” inside the Orion capsule.
“This is an exciting time for Sean and for us at ESA,” said Dr. David Parker, Director of Human and Robot Research at ESA.
“We are very pleased that he has been selected for this mission and we understand that while this may be a small step for a human, it is a giant leap for a lamb.”
Sean’s spacecraft will enter low Earth orbit before his upper stage kicks in, putting him into lunar orbit. The Orion capsule will then fly around the moon, using gravity to pick up speed and travel 43,500 miles (70,000 km) beyond the lunar satellite before returning to the Atlantic Ocean 42 days later.
Shaun the Sheep also flew an Airbus “Zero G” A310 during one of his parabolic flights, recreating the “weightless” conditions of those who have been in space.
Sean and Orion will be launched by NASA’s Space Launch System — a $23 billion 322-foot (98-meter) mega-rocket — later this summer.
NASA Space Launch System: The Largest Rocket Ever Made
The Space Launch System, or SLS, is the launch vehicle that NASA hopes will take its astronauts to the moon and beyond.
The missile will have an initial payload configuration scheduled for launch in the early 2020s, followed by an upgraded “enhanced payload” that can carry heavier payloads.
Initial lift capability of the space launch system
– First flight: mid-2020s
– Height: 322 feet (98 meters)
– Lift: 70 metric tons
– Weight: 2.5 million kilograms (5.5 million pounds)
Enhanced payload space launch system
– First flight: unknown
– Height: 384 feet (117 meters)
– Lift: 130 metric tons
– Weight: 2.9 million kg (6.5 million pounds)
Sean and Orion will be launched by NASA’s Space Launch System, a $23 billion 322-foot (98-meter) mega-rocket.
The spacecraft will enter low Earth orbit before its upper stage fires, putting it into lunar orbit.
The Orion capsule will then fly around the moon, using its gravity to gain speed and propel 43,500 miles (70,000 km) in and around the lunar satellite before returning to the Atlantic Ocean 42 days later.
In preparation for this flight, Sean began an astronaut training and familiarization program with the Orion spacecraft in 2020.
He traveled throughout Europe and the US to see the various aspects of the mission that will be presented. in a series of pre-launch ESA blog posts.
Sean’s model also flew an Airbus “Zero G” A310 in 2019 during one of his parabolic flights, which recreates “weightlessness” conditions similar to those experienced in space.
It gave a glimpse of the rigorous training that all astronauts go through to prepare for the space flight they will now experience in reality.
The furry character’s ride is timed to coincide with the 15th anniversary of Sean’s first television series, created by the animation company Aardman.
Lucy Wendover, Chief Marketing Officer of Aardman, says: “Aardman is thrilled to be joining ESA and making history by launching the first Sheep into space.
“As one of the first astronauts to fly the Artemis mission, Sean is leading the way in lunar exploration, which is a great honor for our furry adventurer!”
Artemis I, which has experienced several delays over the past two and a half years, will finally launch an unmanned Orion capsule that will fly around the moon and return to Earth.
NASA engineers use a suited dummy known as “Commander Munikin Campos” to conduct vibration testing at the Kennedy Space Center. It will fly aboard the Orion spacecraft.
Accompanying Sean on the Orion spacecraft will be NASA’s Munkin dummy.
The test dummy, known as “Commander Munikin Campos”, was successfully installed in the commander’s seat at the head of the Orion capsule.
It is named after Arturo Campos, the electrical engineer who played a key role in the safe return of Apollo 13 to Earth in 1970.
Commander Campos will provide NASA experts with data on what human astronauts may experience during a future flight.
Sensors in the headrest and behind the seat will measure vibrations and accelerations, while radiation sensors will monitor the impact.
Two other dummies, Helga and Zohar, will also be set up in Orion in the coming weeks to record radiation levels.
Last month, NASA announced that it had selected three possible dates for its Artemis I mission – August 29, September 2, or September 5.
James Free, associate administrator at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., said the exact date would be determined about a week before launch.
The Artemis 1 mission will launch the unmanned Orion spacecraft. A cutaway photo of Orion showing Helga and the Zohar, with another male mannequin named Campos above them.
NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the Moon in 2025 as part of the Artemis mission.
Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.
NASA chose her to represent their return journey to the Moon, which will take astronauts back to the lunar surface by 2025, including the first woman and the next man.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly challenging missions that will allow humans to explore the Moon and Mars.
Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s Deep Space Exploration System: Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, and ground systems at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Artemis 1 will be an unmanned flight that will lay the foundation for human exploration of deep space and demonstrate our commitment and ability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.
During this flight, the spacecraft will launch the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.
It will fly 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from the Earth, thousands of miles from the Moon over a roughly three-week mission.
Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly challenging missions that will allow humans to explore the Moon and Mars. This drawing explains the different stages of the mission.
Orion will stay in space longer than any astronaut ship without docking to a space station and will return home faster and hotter than ever before.
With this first exploration mission, NASA will spearhead the next phases of human deep space exploration, where astronauts will build and begin testing systems near the Moon needed for missions to the Moon’s surface and exploration of other places far from Earth, including Mars.
The crew will take a different trajectory and test important Orion systems with humans on board.
Together, Orion, SLS, and ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most demanding crew and cargo needs in deep space.
Ultimately, NASA aims to have a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.
The space agency hopes this colony will unlock new scientific discoveries, showcase new technological advances, and lay the foundation for private companies that will build the lunar economy.